HMCS MONTRÉAL, at sea — In this series, we will focus on hockey and its ability to unify Canadians everywhere, especially those who serve in our Armed Forces while overseas. To show this, sailors on the HMCS Montreal will be profiled so that they can provide that unique perspective.
The subject of this profile is Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) Jason Tallman. The Ontario native was raised in a family where service in the Armed Forces was a tradition, and joined the Royal Canadian Navy for life experience and adventure. Jason also displays a passion for the game of hockey. Somehow, a young boy from the Golden Horseshoe of Ontario turned away from the Leafs, and chose the Calgary Flames. An odd choice for someone in Ontario in the 1980’s, but one Habs fans won’t begrudge him too much as he did turn away from “the Evil Empire”.
Why did you choose to join the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)?
When I was 12, I joined the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Valiant in the town of Port Colborne, ON. My father was in the Air Force and my grandfather had been in both the British and Canadian Army, so I knew I wanted a career in the military. In 1992, at the age of 17, I had the opportunity to sail onboard HMCS PROTECTEUR from Halifax to Victoria during her coastal transit. It was at this point, I knew I wanted to join the RCN as I really enjoyed the travelling and sea life.
How long have you been a hockey fan?
I was a hockey fan most of my life. Growing up in the 80’s, I was a fan of Wayne Gretzky, and of course the Montreal Canadiens were very popular.
Who is your favourite NHL team?
In 1986, I found myself cheering for the Calgary Flames. That year, they lost to Montreal thanks to the play of a young Patrick Roy. Three years later (1989), they returned again to play Montreal, and I got to watch Lanny MacDonald win his Stanley Cup with the rest of a great Flames team that included some of my favourite players: Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Joel Otto and Theo Fleury. Since then, I have been a loyal Flames fan, even through the tough 90’s when they rarely made the playoffs. In 2004, I had a feeling they would do well as they were playing against Vancouver in the first round and they always did well when they played against the Canucks. I watched with great disappointment as Jarome Iginla and the team lost to Tampa that year.
Who is the one team you feel is your team’s biggest rival, and why?
Obviously the Battle of Alberta is the biggest rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton, but Vancouver is a close second.
While aboard HMCS MONTRÉAL are you able to watch your team?
Rarely, the mess usually shows only Montreal or Eastern Conference games.
What lengths do you go to see them while deployed?
If I have a back watch, I might try to catch a late game. I have been able to see a few of them, recently we were able to watch Calgary vs. Montreal, but most of the time I just read the news feeds on them.
How do you keep up to date on the team?
Again, mostly by watching SportsCenter or on the TSN website.
What is your favourite hockey memory?
I would have to say the 1989 Stanley Cup finals would be one of my favourites. Another would be the 2010 Winter Olympics Gold Medal Game, I was on WUPS onboard TOR. We actually had a pause in the schedule so everyone could watch the game. Never before have I seen an entire ship so glued to the TV watching and cheering for the same team. It was a great memory for all of us onboard.
Why is hockey an important part of your life on the ship?
Onboard ship, there will be tough days and hockey is a morale booster. It’s a way to remember what life is like at home, being able to sit at home on a Saturday night with a few beers, some snacks, and some friends over and the game. Being able to do the same thing on the ship made you feel like you were at back home, even if only for a short while.
Does hockey help you to feel more connected to family, friends, country while on missions/out to sea?
Absolutely, especially during big games, like the playoffs, Olympics, World Juniors, etc. When everyone is together cheering for the same team, knowing that the same thing is happening at home and around the world, it gives you something to talk about when you write home or on the phone.
Do you ever engage in video game hockey tournaments or other such activities on board?
I used to when I was younger. Onboard the HAL, we use to have a video game system and we played games and held occasional tournaments. However, as you get on in years your spare time becomes less and less available for such things.
What draws you to the sport of hockey?
What other game combines speed, strength, skill, team work and personal pride as well as hockey? With other sports, I generally only follow it during the playoffs, but hockey is an all year obsession.
For anyone making a trek to Montréal to experience the city during the NHL playoffs and wishing to visit a Canadian Warship, the HMCS Montréal will be visiting the old port of Montréal between May 12 – 21, 2017 as part of the city’s 375th Anniversary Celebrations.
If you missed any parts of our series on the HMCS Montreal, you can link to them here:
FEATURE | The HMCS Montréal Canadiens
FAN FOCUS | Sailors Aboard HMCS Montréal: David Gagnon
FAN FOCUS | Sailors Aboard HMCS Montreal: Stan Ryan
FAN FOCUS | Sailors Aboard HMCS Montreal: Gillian Good
FAN FOCUS | Sailors Aboard HMCS Montreal: Peter Hughson
FAN FOCUS | Sailors Aboard HMCS Montreal: Maurice Hodder